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nettled and depraved heathen heart, as to be nonplussed at the very first onset. But the remarks now made on the difficulty of reaching conviction to a heathen mind upon the first principles of the christian scheme, and the consequent necessity of the christian instructor being prepared to do justice to the cause of truth, and to bring it off with honour when assailed by a cunning and determined adversary, may serve as a corroborative argument to what I have said in another letter upon the " qualifications of missionaries.”
I remark then that it is vain to expect that any heathen can obtain conviction of the truth of christianity without a due degree of attention to the subject. You may place an object in the clear light of the noon-day sun, but in order to any man's perceiving it he must turn his eye upon it. It may be boldly declared to any inquirer that proofs of the truth of christianity are at hand if he will but attend to them, and that they are sufficient to satisfy him of the truth of its pretensions unless he shut his mind against conviction. A willingness to be convinced is essential to the character of a candid inquirer after truth; and to be deceived in a subject of so much moment as religion, is a thing so much to be dreaded, that there ought to be the utmost seriousness and attention brought to the investigation of it. Such ideas strongly pressed upon the mind of a heathen, accompanied with hints as to the most palpable errors of his own
system, may, by the blessing of God, dispose him to allow some weight to the arguments that may then be laid before him for the truth of the christian system.
These arguments are various, and must of course be presented in a shape adapted to meet the peculiar state of mind, opinions, praetices, and habits of the individual ; and of all this the missionary must be the judge.
The following have occurred to me as a few of such arguments, and they are more or less applicable to all the varieties of heathen systems in the world.
(1.) All men, whatever may be their distinction of birth, country, rank, or profession, are on a level in the sight of God. A religion therefore which comes from God will treat men as naturally equal, and as all standing in the same relation to him. It will not render salvation easier for the rich than for the poor-for the wise than for the unwise--for the learned than for the ignorant. Your religion is not such a system; christianty is.
(2.) Man is conscious of his sinfulness; his conscience condemns him : and consequently, if he does not altogether banish reflection, must be afraid of death and all that follows it. A religion that comes from God must be fitted to quell such fears in all its true disciples—give them peace and hope in the prospect of eternity, and that upon solid, intelligible, satisfactory grounds. Your system
cannot dissipate such fears; it cannot yield such a hope; christianity does.
(3.) The dictates of natural reason when calmly listened to testify of a God, and conclude him to be a perfect being, essentially good as well as infinitely great, and infinitely wise. A religion therefore which comes from him must correspond with this idea : a revelation from himself must fill up the faint outline. The christian revelation does so: yours is at utter variance with it.
(4.) The soul of man is capable of endless happiness; and that a happiness adapted to its spiritual nature, which for want of better terms may be called intellectual and moral happiness. A true revelation will represent the future state of happiness it promises to its followers as consisting of enjoyments corresponding to the spiritual nature of the soul-a state of intellectual and moral perfection. Such is the heaven the christian revelation makes known. To such a heaven it leads believers; for such a heaven it prepares them-a heaven of purity and love and blessedness derived immediately from God himself. Your heaven consists of sensual gratifications, the indulgence of base appetite and passions.
(5.) Man's existence on earth is but for a limited period, a few years; but his future existence is endless. The interests of eternity therefore are of infinitely greater importance than those of time. A religion that has come from God will accordingly deal with men chiefly as immortal creatures, and
the great burden of it will be the -necessity and means of providing for the happiness of the soul in a future state of being.
This is the character of christianity, but your system represents present pleasure, wealth, prosperity, &c. as some of the chief things to be secured; your system is liberal of promises of all temporal good to its adherents, and many of your services have no other end or object but present sensual good, the removal of temporal evils, or the securing of temporal prosperity.
This is well expressed by a modern author. “One of the leading characteristics by which the religion of the Bible is distinguished from those systems of philosophy and morality which many would impose upon us in its place, is, that every thing appertaining to it bears a relation to eternity. The object of all other systems is, at best, to form the manners, but this rectifies the heart; they aspire only to fit men for this world; but this, while it imparts those dispositions which tend more than any thing else to promote peace, order, and happiness in society, fixes the affections supremely on God and things above." Fuller's Essays, p. 257.
(6.) If God be a pure, a good being, the objects of his favour must be made like himself. Approximation to his purity and perfection, so far as creatures may, must be the aim, and ultimately the attainment of all whom he admits into heaven. Therefore a true religion will not merely teach that the divine nature is adorned with
fection, but will inculcate purity, and the exercise of every virtue upon its disciples, both as their duty and their happiness. It will palliate no sin; it will represent the love and practice of iniquity as irreconcileable with happiness; it will represent a course of sin as incompatible with the enjoyment of the favour of God, and inconsistent with the character of one who hopes for a happiness whose element is holiness, the happiness of a sinless state. Hence a true religion will allow of no indulgence of lust, it will furnish no food for pride, no fuel for the fire of wrath, hatred or envy; it will come with a sweeping proscription levelled against the entire mass of human corruption. Such is christianity; and therefore they who love sin hate it. Such is not your religion, and therefore they who love sin may have no objection to it. But from this arises a strong presumption that christianity is true, and your system false.
This is but a specimen of the way of stating the claims of christianity as a system worthy of farther examination. When the missionary succeeds in fixing the attention of a heathen to the all important subject, a great point is gained; and if the missionary be well acquainted with the notions and prejudices of the idolaters to whom he is thus delivering his message, he may, by properly availing himself of this knowledge, present the gospel scheme of salvation in many impressive points of view. The doctrine of the cross of Christ may appear strange. The